November 5, 2016

Teaching Kids Self-Care

Middle school has been a tough transition for our girls. In addition to all the ups and downs of going to a new school (and going from being a big fish to a little fish), there is also … puberty… and all the hormones that go with it.

As we weather the highs and lows together, I’ve found myself talking with my daughters about self-care. I’ve been through a lot in my 47 years and have learned that leading a happy life is less about luck and more about learning to take care of yourself no matter what happens.

Case in point: When I was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the ripe old age of 24 (!) I spent a lot of time worrying about the future (or I should say not having one.) As days turned into months, I realized I had no control over my ultimate prognosis. Even so, I did have control over what I did for myself each day.

Even though I would never wish my experience on anyone, I do feel lucky to have gained the wisdom it gave me at such a young age. I learned to not sweat the small stuff. I also learned that even when the sky is falling, if I take the time to look around there is always something I can find that brings me joy: birds singing, bubble baths, baking … and yes, cute animal videos.

(Here’s a favorite…)

So now I’m teaching my kids that they have the power, to take action no matter what bad, sad, mad or frightening things may be.

Do it with your kids!

With this in mind, I’m sharing this great illustration below.

 

I’m challenging you to share the ways you do #selfcare with your kids. Come up with your illustrated lists of things that make you feel better on blue days. Let’s #breakthesilence about sadness and talk about #self-care with our kids!

Here’s how:

When your child is low, explain that we can’t always control what’s going on outside. But, there is always something we can do to help make us feel better. Ask them to try an experiment with you. Ask them to rank their feeling on a scale of 1 – 10 (one being totally, totally sucky, and 10 being totally, amazingly awesome.) If your child is little, you can draw a range of sad to happy in a row and ask them to rank their feelings on the happy face scale. (Or, print out a series of emoji’s like the one’s below.)

Next, ask them to list 5 – 10 things that make them feel happy when they are down. Share some ideas from your list, explaining that everyone’s list is individual. What works for you may not be on their list.

My self-care list:

  • Talk with a friend on the phone
  • Bake something
  • Play with my cat
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Watch a movie
  • Go for a walk
  • Read a book
  • Do something creative
  • Play a game
  • Sing or dance to a favorite song

Then, ask your child to try something on their list and to see if your experiment works. Did it make him or her feel better? If the answer is yes, keep it on the list; if not, try something else.

By approaching self-care as a project or experiment, there is less pressure. Kids get the opportunity to actively try out different self-care activities. Whatever makes it on the list, can become part of a self-care routine. If you and your child are feeling creative, you can even draw up you lists in cartoons as a reminder for the future.

So, now it’s your turn… What’s on your self-care list? What about your kids?

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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